Tisha B'Av: "In all moments, seek peace."

Rabbi Bradley Artson

Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av), which is observed beginning the evening of August 4th this year, is a fast day commemorating the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. It is considered the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.

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Jewish tradition ascribes the destruction of the first temple to idol worship, and the second temple to baseless hatred (sinat chinam) among Jews. The Talmud explains that the second Temple was destroyed partially because while people were behaving abominably to one another, the leaders of the community stood by and said nothing.

My teacher, Rabbi Bradley Artson, wrote this essay because he feels that it is time for us to stand up for peace, for Hamas’s violence and terror to end so Israelis can live in peace and security, and for Israel’s government to rein in its extremists and continue to pursue peace negotiations. APN shares those sentiments.

We hope that you will read Rabbi Artson's essay, and be as moved, as we were, by it.

This year don't stand by while our leaders fail to stand up for peace. Help APN lead the effort to seek peace and pursue peace. Idolizing settlements and "Greater Israel" will not lead to peace, and baseless hatred that leads to destruction of property and ends in the death of innocents is undeniably immoral. Rather let us see peace, and ahavat chinam - love without expected requite - in our days.

Rabbi Alana Suskin
Director of Strategic Communications
Americans for Peace Now

And So We Speak for Peace

by Rabbi Bradley Artson

Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean's Chair of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University
in Los Angeles, California

Love of peace requires us to support the legitimate aspirations of the Jewish people and the Palestinian people for national self-expression.

-- Rabbi Bradley Artson

Silence is assent. How often do we face acts of injustice or words of callousness with silence? These instances summon us to choose a side. We can either verbalize our opposition immediately, or —through our silence — we become allies of the oppression or bigotry we abhor. There is no neutrality. Silence is assent.


So we speak: Every nation has the right to protect its citizens from attack. As Israel defends its people, we pray for success in beating back Hamas's missiles, deliberately stored and launched among Palestinian civilians and deliberately aimed at Israeli civilian centers, and hold in our hearts the Israeli and Palestinian civilians whose lives are at risk. May the One who is peace grant us all peace.

Love of peace requires us to support the legitimate aspirations of the Jewish people and the Palestinian people for national self-expression. That same love of peace calls us to condemn kidnapping and murdering innocent teenagers, Palestinian or Israeli, and to condemn deliberately targeting civilians. That commitment to peace leads us to demand of the Palestinians: recognize the legitimacy of Israel and stop terror attacks and missile launches. It leads us to turn to Israel to rein in its extremists, to roll back the settlements, to continue to pursue peace negotiations. What is most godly about humanity is our knowledge of good and evil. That awareness, and our ability to act on our own moral impulse, represents an opportunity and a challenge. Today, we must all act with such bountiful justice that God can respond, “Behold, it is good!”

And, surely, nothing is more good than peace/shalom/salaam: God's most precious gift, and our most worthy aspiration. "Seek peace" when the opportunity presents itself. "Pursue it" when its attainment seems impossible. The work of peacemaking is holy work; in all moments, seek peace.

 This essay appeared first on the blog "Jesus Jazz and Buddhism" and is reprinted by permission of the author.